Over 20 Years of Health Research

Since 1997, the Wild Blueberry Association of North America (WBANA) has been collaborating with elite scientists to help study the health benefits of wild blueberries. WBANA is dedicated to furthering research that explores the health potential of wild blueberries and annually funds research studies that help advance the understanding of the nutritional and human health benefits of wild blueberries.

Each year, WBANA has hosts the Wild Blueberry Health Research Summit in Bar Harbor, Maine, a worldwide gathering of renowned scientists and researchers from leading institutions representing broad disciplines — from cardiovascular health to cancer to heart disease, osteoporosis, neurological diseases of aging, and more. Their work is leading the way to learn more about the health benefits of wild blueberries, and their findings, which use rigorous methodology, are documented in a growing number of published studies on the potential health and disease-fighting benefits of wild blueberries. All published research studies are written by and submitted to peer-reviewed journals by the researcher, independent of WBANA.

Below are scientific research papers that provide more detail into the role wild blueberries may play in promoting human health.

Polyphenols: well beyond the antioxidant capacity: gallic acid and related compounds as neuroprotective agents: you are what you eat!

Daglia, M.; Di Lorenzo, A.; Nabavi, S. F.; Talas, Z. S.; Nabavi, S. M.
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Gallic acid (3,4,5-trihydroxybenzoic acid) is a phenolic acid widely distributed in many different families of higher plants, both in free state, and as a part of more complex molecules, such as ester derivatives or polymers. In nature, gallic acid and its derivatives are present in nearly every part of the plant, such as bark, wood, leaf, fruit, root and seed. They are present in different concentrations in common foodstuffs such as blueberry, blackberry, strawberry, plums, grapes, mango, cashew nut, hazelnut, walnut, tea, wine and so on. After consumption, about 70% of gallic acid is adsorbed and then excreted in the urine as 4-O-methylgallic acid. Differently, the ester derivatives of gallic acid, such as catechin gallate ester or gallotannins, are hydrolyzed to gallic acid before being metabolized to methylated derivatives. Gallic acid is a well known antioxidant compounds which has neuroprotective actions in different models of neurodegeneration, neurotoxicity and oxidative stress. In this review, we discuss about the neuroprotective actions of gallic acid and derivatives and their potential mechanisms of action.


Blueberry anthocyanins in health promotion: A metabolic overview

Norberto, Sónia; Silva, Sara; Meireles, Manuela; Faria, Ana; Pintado, Manuela; Calhau, Conceição
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Diet has gained scientific community attention due to the crucial role in health maintenance, but also in disease treatment, and essential in disease prevention. Several food and food components, particularly phenolic rich foods, have been investigated as they present themselves as putative functional foods. In the past decades, obesity has reached epidemic proportions and consequently, metabolic syndrome (a set of disorders as impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistance, abdominal obesity, dyslipidemia and high blood pressure, which increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes) incidence is increasing worldwide at an alarming rate and this phenolic rich foods, specially berries have been investigated to their potential beneficial effect in this disorders. In the present work the chemistry of blueberries (BB) (fruits of some Vaccinium species) was summarised as well as the knowledge about bioavailability and biokinetic of anthocyanins from blueberries with particular emphasis on its implications in metabolic disorders.


A review of pterostilbene antioxidant activity and disease modification

McCormack, D.; McFadden, D.
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Pterostilbene (trans-3,5-dimethoxy-4-hydroxystilbene) is a natural dietary compound and the primary antioxidant component of blueberries. It has increased bioavailability in comparison to other stilbene compounds, which may enhance its dietary benefit and possibly contribute to a valuable clinical effect. Multiple studies have demonstrated the antioxidant activity of pterostilbene in both in vitro and in vivo models illustrating both preventative and therapeutic benefits. The antioxidant activity of pterostilbene has been implicated in anticarcinogenesis, modulation of neurological disease, anti-inflammation, attenuation of vascular disease, and amelioration of diabetes. In this review, we explore the antioxidant properties of pterostilbene and its relationship to common disease pathways and give a summary of the clinical potential of pterostilbene in the prevention and treatment of various medical conditions.


Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.)

Chu, W.; Cheung, S. C. M.; Lau, R. A. W.; Benzie, I. F. F.
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Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) is one of the richest natural sources of anthocyanins. These polyphenolic components give bilberry its blue/black color and high antioxidant content, and they are believed to be the key bioactives responsible for the many reported health benefits of bilberry and other berry fruits. Although bilberry is promoted most commonly for improving vision, it has been reported to lower blood glucose, to have anti-inflammatory and lipid-lowering effects, and to promote antioxidant defense and lower oxidative stress. Therefore, bilberry is of potential value in the treatment or prevention of conditions associated with inflammation, dyslipidemia, hyperglycemia or increased oxidative stress, cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, diabetes, and dementia and other age-related diseases. There are also reports that bilberry has antimicrobial activity. In this chapter, bilberry and its components and characteristics are described, and evidence for the health benefits of bilberry is presented and discussed.


Anthocyanins and weight loss

Prior, R. L.
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This review evaluates the available scientific literature relating to anthocyanins and wt. loss and/or obesity, as well as other effects of anthocyanins on pathologies that are closely related to obesity. Although there is considerable popular press coverage concerning anthocyanins and wt. loss, there are no controlled clinical trials directly supporting beneficial effects of anthocyanins in a wt. loss programme. Purified anthocyanins from varying sources have been shown to decrease lipid deposition in rodent models of obesity. However, in the few studies where the anthocyanins were consumed as a part of the whole food or berry, anti-obesity effects have not generally been observed. An exception is the case of whole blueberry, where effects were observed that protected against some of the pathologies associated with obesity including inflammation. Studies reviewed have provided an overview of the gene expression profiles in human and rodent adipocytes treated with anthocyanins. Anthocyanins have been shown to regulate adipocytokine gene expression, to ameliorate adipocyte dysfunction related to obesity and diabetes and merit further investigation. Additional research is needed to understand mechanisms whereby anthocyanins might influence obesity. Alterations in lipogenesis and lipolysis in adipose tissue as well as in numerous adipokine and cytokine signalling pathways have been suggested to explain the effects of anthocyanins on the development of obesity.


Berries: emerging impact on cardiovascular health

Basu, A.; Rhone, M.; Lyons, T. J.
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Berries are a good source of polyphenols, especially anthocyanins, micronutrients, and fiber. In epidemiological and clinical studies, these constituents have been associated with improved cardiovascular risk profiles. Human intervention studies using chokeberries, cranberries, blueberries, and strawberries (either fresh, or as juice, or freeze-dried), or purified anthocyanin extracts have demonstrated significant improvements in LDL oxidation, lipid peroxidation, total plasma antioxidant capacity, dyslipidemia, and glucose metabolism. Benefits were seen in healthy subjects and in those with existing metabolic risk factors. Underlying mechanisms for these beneficial effects are believed to include upregulation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase, decreased activities of carbohydrate digestive enzymes, decreased oxidative stress, and inhibition of inflammatory gene expression and foam cell formation. Though limited, these data support the recommendation of berries as an essential fruit group in a heart-healthy diet.


Advances in berry research: The sixth Biennial Berry Health Benefits Symposium

Seeram, Navindra P.; Shukitt-Hale, Barbara
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Studies to advance the potential health benefits of berries continue to increase as was evident at the sixth biennial meeting of the Berry Health Benefits Symposium (BHBS). The two and a half-day symposium was held on October 13-15, 2015, in Madison, Wisconsin, United States. The 2015 BHBS featured new and emerging research further bolstering the positive biological effects of berry consumption on human health, performance, and disease prevention. The papers presented at the 2015 BHBS consisted of invited papers from an international group of leading berry researchers, as well as poster abstracts. Oral sessions were organized around themes including heart health, cancer prevention, gut health/gut microflora, brain aging, metabolism, and berry compositional chemistry. These thematic health areas, while not exhaustive, encompass the more prominent research success stories on berries, the vast majority of which are backed by published animal and human studies. Similar to the past meetings, the research findings at the 2015 BHBS primarily focused on blackberries, blueberries, black raspberries, cranberries, red raspberries, and strawberries. However, research on other berry fruits, including chokeberry (aronia berry), cloudberry, blue honeysuckle berry, bilberry, jamun berry, and elderberry, was also featured as was data on major classes of berry polyphenols/phytochemicals including anthocyanins and other flavonoids and their in vivo derived metabolites. The BHBS continues to be a leading forum for interactions between scientists and berry industry stakeholders. The cluster of papers in this issue represents a snapshot of presentations at the 2015 BHBS which support the positive biological effects of berries on human health and diseases. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
Copyright of Journal of Berry Research is the property of IOS Press and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder’s express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)


What’s New in Sports Nutrition Recovery? A Closer Look at the Evidence for Tart Cherry Juice and Blueberry Juice for Recovery

Rosenbloom, Christine
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Athletes seeking to reduce inflammation and muscle soreness after exercise often use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Although sold over the counter for many years, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are not without health risks, especially when taken in large doses for long periods. Could polyphenolic-rich cherry or blueberry juice be a natural way to speed recovery without drug side effects? This article examines the evidence for using tart cherry juice and blueberry juice as a nutritional recovery strategy after strenuous exercise. Researchers have found modest benefits for tart cherry juice for pain reduction, relief for muscle soreness, and muscle inflammation after exercise. Although blueberry juice has similar chemical properties as tart cherry juice, the evidence supporting it as a recovery drink is limited at this time. Consuming cherry or blueberry juice is not harmful and may have some positive benefits for recovery and for increasing fruit consumption in athletes and active people. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
Copyright of Nutrition Today is the property of Lippincott Williams & Wilkins and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder’s express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)


Promising therapeutic potential of pterostilbene and its mechanistic insight based on preclinical evidence

Kosuru, Ramoji; Rai, Uddipak; Prakash, Swati; Singh, Abhishank; Singh, Sanjay
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Pterostilbene (PS) is a well-recognized antioxidant that primarily exists in blueberries, grapevines and heartwood of red sandalwood. Interest in this compound has been renewed in recent years, and studies have found that PS possesses an array of pharmacological properties, including chemopreventive, antiinflammatory, antidiabetic, antidyslipidemic, antiatherosclerotic and neuroprotective effects. However, the greater in vivo bioavailability of PS, as compared to resveratrol, is an added advantage for its efficacy. This review provides a summary regarding the sources, pharmacokinetic aspects and pharmacodynamics of PS, with a focus on the molecular mechanisms underlying its protective effects against cancer, brain injuries and heart disease. Studies regarding the safety profile of PS have also been included. Based on the presently available evidence, we conclude that PS represents an active phytonutrient and a potential drug with pleiotropic health applications.


The Potential of Plant Phenolics in Prevention and Therapy of Skin Disorders

Działo, Magdalena; Mierziak, Justyna; Korzun, Urszula; Preisner, Marta; Szopa, Jan; Kulma, Anna
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Phenolic compounds constitute a group of secondary metabolites which have important functions in plants. Besides the beneficial effects on the plant host, phenolic metabolites (polyphenols) exhibit a series of biological properties that influence the human in a health-promoting manner. Evidence suggests that people can benefit from plant phenolics obtained either by the diet or through skin application, because they can alleviate symptoms and inhibit the development of various skin disorders. Due to their natural origin and low toxicity, phenolic compounds are a promising tool in eliminating the causes and effects of skin aging, skin diseases, and skin damage, including wounds and burns. Polyphenols also act protectively and help prevent or attenuate the progression of certain skin disorders, both embarrassing minor problems (e.g., wrinkles, acne) or serious, potentially life-threatening diseases such as cancer. This paper reviews the latest reports on the potential therapy of skin disorders through treatment with phenolic compounds, considering mostly a single specific compound or a combination of compounds in a plant extract. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
Copyright of International Journal of Molecular Sciences is the property of MDPI Publishing and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder’s express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)


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Looking for more health research?

Contact KIT BROIHIER, resident nutrition adviser to the Wild Blueberry Association of North America

Email Kit

Kit Broihier, MS, RD, LD is the Nutrition advisor and spokesperson for the Wild Blueberry Association of North America. She is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian with a Masters Degree in Nutrition and is the owner of NutriComm Inc., a food and nutrition communications consulting company.

Ms. Broihier received a Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics from Michigan State University and a Master of Science degree in Nutrition Communications from Boston University.